They’re not your grandfather’s cello players — but they have their grandfather to thank for propelling them to stardom.
Sibling cello sensations Emil and Dariel Liakhovetski have earned instant fame competing on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” — bringing tears to the eyes of their instructor grandfather who immigrated to Queens from the Soviet Union nearly 40 years ago, carrying a broken cello and a passion for music.
“It’s been a big dream to see my boys play on stage,” proud gramps Leonid Rubanchik, 77, told the Daily News Saturday. “Sometimes when they’re playing I cry because my heart is being broken.”
The Florida-based Liakhovetski brothers — Emil is 16; Dariel, 14 — are among the 12 finalists fighting for the $1 million first prize. They’ll be appearing Tuesday in a bid to become one of the final six acts.
The talented teens have wowed the judges and audiences at home with their high-octane, rock ‘n’ roll fueled routines. Their electric cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” even induced Howard Stern to leap out of his seat in applause.
“You guys just shocked us,” Stern told them during their audition, which aired June 22. “You just went to being the coolest guys on the block.”
The boys owe it all to their grandfather, the only teacher they’ve ever known. Rubanchik, after settling in Astoria in 1977, took odd jobs as a waiter and a janitor while pursuing his true passion — the cello. His dedication paid off. Rubanchik became the principal cellist in an orchestra in Venezuela, where he played for eight years.
Rubanchik began teaching his grandsons the cello when they were each 4 years old.
“I teach them classical music because I’m a classical cellist,” said Rubanchik, who lives with the boys and their mother in Boca Raton.
But he acknowledged that the students have outdone their teacher.
“I tell you the truth, how they play this kind of music, I cannot play,” Rubanchik said.
Emil Liakhovetski said they’re hoping to take the techniques their grandfather taught them straight to the bank. “There’s a lot of pressure and expectations, but it’s a lot of fun for us as well,” Emil said. “This is what we love to do.”